March 20, 2013
Thousands Of Websites Light Up The Cat Signal Over CISPA Concerns
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Last July, a group of Internet activists band together to fight the forces of evil and unfriendly legislation. The group, which calls themselves the Internet Defense League, (IDL) devised a clever way to alert all citizens of the Internet of a pending piece of unfriendly legislation, such as PIPA or SOPA. Thus, the “Cat Signal” was born, a smiling cat logo reminiscent of the “Bat Signal” used in the Batman comics and movies.
On Tuesday, the IDL asked its members to add the Cat Signal to their Web sites to oppose CISPA, a call which over 30,000 Web sites answered.
CISPA (or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) first appeared in late 2011 and passed the House in April 2012.
The simple end goal of this legislation is to allow private and public sectors to band together to stand up against cyber-attacks from criminals, hacktivists and terrorists alike.
CISPA was controversial because it called for the private and public sectors to be able to share information freely between one another with little restrictions.
CISPA has come under fire again this week and the IDL is prepared to fight against it with the help of Web sites like Craigslist, Duck Duck Go and Reddit.
“CISPA takes away people's 4th amendment right to privacy,” said Tiffiniy Cheng with the IDL and Fight for the Future in a press statement. “That's why internet users are going to do what they're good at; the Internet is good at fighting for itself and the rights of every user. We've been able to tailor our responses to the unique threats and opportunities to free expression and rights online, and we keep winning."
The Cat Signal acts as a rallying call to all supporters of the IDL. Unlike the Bat Signal of Batman fame, the Cat Signal is less of a tangible signal and more of a piece of code which can be embedded in Web sites. This code places a tool on the Web site which alerts all visitors about the troublesome piece of legislation pending. Visitors to these Web sites can use this tool to find their US State Representative and the appropriate phone number to call and state their opposition to the pending law. Yesterday´s message reads: “CISPA is Back. This bill sacrifices privacy without improving security. We deserve both.”
More than 30,000 Web sites set alight the Cat Signal code during the day.
The state of CISPA remains foggy, but President Obama signed an executive order in January which put some of CISPA´s less controversial measures into practice. These measures included opening up the flow of data between government agencies and private businesses.
The “Stop CISPA Week of Action” also began this week along with the IDL´s protests.
According to WhistleBlower.org, CISPA continues to threaten public privacy by:
* Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving overly broad legal immunity to companies who share users' private information, including the content of communications, with the government.
* Authorizing companies to disclose users' data directly to the NSA, a military agency that operates secretly and without public accountability.
* Broad definitions that allow users' sensitive personal information to be used for a range of purposes, including for "national security," not just computer and network security.